The Happy Barn
That barn just outside of Buhl, Idaho was built back in 1912, along with a dairy and a cheese factory by Gustave Kunze, who moved here from Tillamook, Oregon. Master barn builder Henry Schick, a German-Russian immigrant built it using post and lintel framing and a gambrel style roof. It was specifically designed for use as a dairy barn, rather than as multipurpose style barn more common then.
“The hay was stored up here and the dairy was in the bottom, the milking parlor,” said Pearson.
“Back then they brought hay in on wagons, and so they would come up the ramp with hay on their wagon.”
120 feet long, the loft could hold 200 tons of hay.
“So, they have their own mill here, grinding mill and so obviously they would grow their own grain and then they augured it into the mill. They ground it and then they augured it up here, run it through their molassefier, they added the molasses and mixed it up and then dropped in back down into a truck or in something that would allow them to put it in the manger for the dairy.”
“And they had all sorts of lathes and forges and a whole bunch of belt-driven stuff,” said Pearson.
“From the stories I’ve been told they were just way ahead of their time as far as technology and industry back then.”
The barn was later bought by Ted Sandmeyer, who owned it for many years.
“The family I bought if from bought it from the Sandmeyer’s, and their last name was Petterson. And when they come and asked me if I’d be interested in the barn, I convinced my wife that it was meant to be because the “P” was already there.” “That was all it took. And the house, she had always wanted an old farmhouse, and so she got an old farmhouse, and I got an old farm.”
“Obviously in the past it was a milking barn and a hay storage barn. In recent years it was used for a few events.”
Did you guys think that you would be renting it out when you bought this place?
“That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was actually sitting in a Farm Bureau meeting one night, the Women’s committee chairman was sitting beside me, and she said I’m getting married and there’s this barn that I want to get married in, but they tell me that it’s tied up in a transaction, it’s being sold. And I said where’s the barn at? And she went on to tell me, and I said give me a couple weeks and I’ll let you know if you can get married there… laughs – So they were actually our first wedding, was the women’s chair for Twin Falls County Farm Bureau. And then it’s just expanded from there.”
“My wife has kind of taken it up and has gotten to where she kind of enjoys it, so it’s her deal.”
“We probably have 10 to 15 a year and I think she’s already got that much booked for next year. Mostly weddings… we’ve had some proms here, high school proms, some 4H - FFA benefit dinners, some quinceaneras, we’ve had a couple of those, a couple birthday parties.”
“The last three years we’ve had Halloween parties, harvest parties and just invited the community and have had a good turnout for that as well.”
There’s no heat inside so Rick and his wife Susan operate mostly during the warmer months. He says it can get pretty warm during the heat of summer.
“We can open the during and kinda get a breeze blowing through and Susan has told me that I’m gonna install a window on that end so we can get some breeze through on that end, too but I haven’t got to that project yet.”
“A lot of the stuff that’s in here has come from different weddings and they just end up leaving them. We hung all these lights to start out with, and then the chandeliers are old rake wheels that one of the gals that got married, her dad had some old rake wheels laying around and so they put the lights and the old mason jars on them themselves. So those are old rake wheels.”
“Its getting to where weddings want to be kind of themed, and so it’s really getting a lot of country weddings. A lot of the bridesmaids will be in boots and dresses, and we end up with a barn dance basically.”
Rick says they’ve had to shoot birds occasionally, replace a few broken windows, and upgrade the electrical system.
“It’s really incredible, to think that they put these beams up completely by hand or with the use of horses or however they did it. It’s just amazing that they could construct something, and construct it a way that it’s going to last for 110 years. It’s just incredible.”
And it’s probably got a lot of years left.
“Yep, my banker says 30. – laughs –“